(01/24/14) - Downtown Saginaw has had some positive development news as of late with the renovations of the Eddy and Bancroft apartment buildings.
City leaders were hoping that would spur further development, and it appears that is happening, as a Saginaw area woman with a military background plans to open a restaurant right next to the Eddy.
As the cold wind howls outside - inside, the building right next to the former Eddy building, which houses the Bancroft Luxury Apartment, is getting a makeover. The French Quarters Restaurant closed down a few years ago, but in mid-March, Rita's Southern Soul Cafe will be there.
Who is Rita? She is Master Sergeant Rita Johnson of the U.S. Army Reserves.
"It's something I always wanted to do," she said about opening the restaurant.
She is doing this all with private financing. Projected cost to renovate is about $200,000, but she is also seeking some help from the Saginaw Economic Development Corporation.
Rita is a Buena Vista High School graduate and has spent 33 years in the military, something customers will get a feel for.
"It's going to be oriented with the military of course, we are going to have military discounts," she said.
"I will be helping her, the family will be helping her," said Rita's mom, Gloria Johnson.
Gloria says Rita's eight other siblings will also be pitching in.
"She plans on bringing in 15 other employees if her business is good," Gloria said.
The plan for now is to open Thursday-Sunday, with entertainment on certain nights.
"It will be a restaurant by day and a nightclub by night," Gloria said.
With tenants now moving into the apartments next door, and with 122 units slated to open in the other Bancroft Luxury Apartments in April or May, the Johnson family feels this is the right time to invest in Saginaw.
"I think things are starting to change downtown," Gloria said.
Rita hopes to have the restaurant open within two months.
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